Be the best.

The Army’s former advertising campaign was simplistic and direct.

But now that has been abandoned for a new £1.6 million recruitment campaign which emphasises inclusivity, understanding and compassion.

So is it pitched correctly - or wide of the mark?

Colonel Richard Kemp, who served as the commander of British Forces in Afghanistan from July until November 2003, is clear.

The message is misleading and unhelpful and has been motivated more by political correctness than a desire to recruit the best soldiers.

“Anyone who’s serving, in any capacity, has to be some form of ruffian,” he said. “You need to be able to fight hand-to-hand, you have to be willing to get close and kill the enemy.

“It is not a job for a stamp collector or someone who sits behind a desk playing video games.

“We are getting away from that simple fact and now it is fine as long as the Army is diverse.”

Between April 2016 and March 2017, 8,194 soldiers joined the British Army.

But 9,775 left during that period, many citing the pressures of family life and other opportunities outside the forces as reasons for leaving.

Figures show around ten per cent of the British regular forces are women, while 7.5 per cent come from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson recently blocked an attempt to ditch the Army’s “Be the best” recruitment logo and its crest, which features crossed swords, a crown and a lion.

Mr Kemp praised this action, describing Mr Williamson’s “robust” approach as the best way forward. “Of course, if possible the Army should be a reflection of the composition of society, but of the upmost importance is filling the army with fighting men,” he said. “The Army also doesn’t just exist to fight, it exists to deter war, to show our enemies that we mean business, that we are a force to be reckoned with.

“These campaigns should be showing that the British Army is effective and ready to fight.”

The Army’s new recruitment campaign, which is now being screened on TV, aims to demonstrate it can emotionally support recruits from all backgrounds.

Its campaign seeks to address issues such as religion and sexuality.

The new adverts are voiced by serving soldiers and are set to be released as part of a bid to boost dwindling recruitment figures.

The new “belonging campaign” asks questions like: “What if I get emotional?”, “Can I be gay in the Army?” and “Do I have to be a superhero?”

But Mr Kemp believes targetting the Army’s “core demographic” is still the best way forward in terms of recruiting the best soldiers.

He described the adverts as a clear sign the forces are buckling under pressure to be more politically correct.

“It is a sickness that is affecting the whole of society,” he added.

“I am all for equality, but it has gone too far the other way.

“It doesn’t frustrate me, but it does worry me.

“I think the British Army remains the best in the world and the most effective in the world, it is still highly respected. “But there is a danger that by this overt political correctness it will be weakened.”

The veteran, a former Colchester Royal Grammar School student who served with the Royal Anglian Regiment and lives in Colchester, added: “This campaign is focused on the objective of meeting quotas for the recruitment from various minority groups in the UK, rather than actually recruiting people who want to fight. “The majority of people who join the Army do so because they want to fight, they want adventure. “Since probably the 1980s a lot of military advertising and recruitment campaigns have missed the mark by focusing on the more humanitarian side of things. “If you become a doctor you want to care for people, if you become a surgeon you’ll be cutting people open, in the Army the majority are there to fight.

“History proves at times when we are at war, in Aghanistan for example, they were turning people away as so many wanted to be a part of it. “The Army should be showing the kind of images which reflect the kind of action that core demographic are looking for.”